In a city as inexhaustibly diverse and adventure-filled as New York, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world just beyond the five boroughs. But on those occasions when you crave an out-of-town excursion, a slice of small-town life or a brush with nature, the options are endless. Here are 10 quick escapes just outside NYC.
Despite the fact that the infamous Woodstock festival took place 40 miles away in Bethel, NY, its namesake town is still a haven for artsy types seeking weekend retreats with a rock ’n’ roll edge. Predictably, the cool kids from New York City have made their mark (we recommend looking out for nearby The Graham & Co., owned and creatively decorated by Brooklyn-based designers), but that old-school hippy style still perseveres in the form of tie-dyed tees and the faint whiff of patchouli.
Breakneck Ridge Woods | Courtesy of Cold Spring Apothecary
Okay, so we’re not quite as serious about casual weekend hikes as our West Coast counterparts, but New Yorkers still like to lace up their sneakers and hit the trails occasionally. Breakneck Ridge is — as the name suggests — not for the unfit or unadventurous (the first 45 minutes are basically an all-fours scramble up some very uncooperative terrain), but the views on the climb are plenty rewarding. If the sparkling, forest-lined Delaware River isn’t enough to encourage you, the promise of an icy beer and some artisan shopping at the finish line just might be. Cold Spring Apothecary offers small-batch, botanical-based skin, hair, and medicinal products that you won’t find at your local CVS.
With 500 acres of gigantic, looming, large-scale sculptures, you should assemble some friends, pack a picnic, and spend the best part of the day exploring and discovering the best of modern and contemporary sculpture at Storm King. It is only about an hour outside of New York City, and if you time it right, your visit might just coincide with a summer concert or poetry reading.
Summer Fridays — when everybody packs up and leaves at lunchtime in search of respite from the steamy city temperatures — is definitely a ‘thing’ in New York. Sure, the Hamptons is the most scenic coastal option, but Fire Island, with its sleepy towns and pretty stretches of protected beach, is the place to be if you need a proper vacation from city living. The 32-mile-long, one-mile-wide barrier island is divided into approximately 17 ‘communities,’ each with its own agenda; from gay-friendly Cherry Grove to party-hearty Kismet or isolated (read: peaceful) Atlantique. Visit off-season and you’ll have the picturesque, wind-whipped beaches all to yourself.
The 14,119-mile Delaware crosses five states before meeting the Atlantic Ocean near Cape May, in New Jersey. Along the stretch that curves through NY’s leafy Catskills region, some fun-loving geniuses (including the guys at Lander’s River Trips) decided to open canoeing and tubing operations. If you’re feeling active, strap on a life vest and pick the rapids route. Rather just relax” Drape yourself over a tube, crack a stealthy can, and let the gentle current carry you downstream.
There are plenty of quaint villages situated along the Hudson River, but none can compete with the namesake town itself. Hudson, New York, has long been a go-to commuter locale for Brooklyn and Manhattan folk who are over big-city chaos, but not big-city cuisine. Stay in stylish 19th century hat-shop-turned-boutique-guest-house, The Hudson Milliner, and spend a weekend grazing at foodie haunts Red Dot, Fish & Game, and Crimson Sparrow.
Once you arrive in North Fork, you’ll wonder why more people don’t make the hour-and-a-half journey to Long Island’s wine region. Although the town’s wineries excel at producing Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Merlot, rosé fans haven’t been overlooked — Croteaux Vineyards specializes in pink tipple tastings. Sample their nine unique varieties in a rustic 1800s Carriage Barn, or (on warm-weather days) the pebbled courtyard, which is shaded by cherry blossom trees.
Already checked out the upgraded Whitney and exhausted MoMa and The Met” Dia:Beacon should be next on your culture hit list. Part of the Dia Art Foundation’s constellation of sites, this old Nabisco box printing factory houses works dating from the 1960s to the present. The exhibition du jour is Excursus: Homage to the Square3 by Robert Irwin. An installation which has been ‘site-conditioned’ to engage with the museum’s architecture and lighting — both of which were, incidentally, also partly designed by the artist himself.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that where the urban jungle ends, the unblemished wilderness begins. The Adirondacks are vast, beautiful and serene; the perfect landscape for exploring by foot, canoe or skis. They are also host to some famously idilic camping spots, and for New Yorkers who like to buffer nature with a little home comfort, Camp Orenda’s Canvas Cabins fit the bill. Each abode comes with rustic décor (think wooden beds with cozy comforters, tree-stump nightstands, and wood-burning stoves), plus they’re fitted with convenient electrical outlets, so you can keep your iPhone charged and the Spotify jams playing. While you’re in the area, swing by Wild Walk. Known as a ‘High Line for the Forest,’ this elevated trail through the foliage of Tupper Lake facilitates up-close-and-personal encounters with the region’s intriguing trees and creatures.
Situated in the beautiful Berkshire countryside, the Kripalu (pronounced kri-PAH-loo) Center for Yoga & Health is a great place for rejuvenation and holistic education. The largest retreat center in the country, it’s renowned for offering world-class yoga teacher and nutritional trainings, but is also the perfect place to leave city stress behind. Try the R&R Retreat — a customized stay that includes a flexible schedule of classes (yoga, meditation and self-improvement), outdoor activities, and quality down-time.
Esme currently works as a wordsmith for hire in New York City. When she’s not geeking out over syntax, you’ll find her drinking Kale Margaritas at The Wayland, reading Fitzgerald in Brooklyn Bridge Park, or hand-standing (with more vigor than skill) at the yoga studio.